Genomics of Cereal-Based Functional Foods

  • Nidhi Rawat
  • Barbara Laddomada
  • Bikram S. GillEmail author


Cereal grains, with an annual production of over two billion tonnes, are the basic source of calories in the human diet. In addition to providing energy requirements, cereals are sources of novel functional foods. Recent research has highlighted the functional properties of whole-grain cereals due to their health promoting phytochemicals. Soluble fibers in cereals such as β-glucans, arabinoxylans and inulin have prebiotic effects. Bioactive compounds such as phenolic acids, lignans, flavonoids, carotenoids and tocopherols act against oxidative stress, inflammation, hyperglycaemia and even carcinogenesis. Cereals can also be used as fermentable substrates for the growth of probiotic microorganisms. Genetic and genomic studies in cereal crops are unraveling the path from genes to phenotypes. Mapping information is enabling the identification and cloning of genes with structural and regulatory roles in biosynthetic pathways of functional food components. Comparative analysis of cereal genomes and bioinformatics based approaches are useful for discovering novel genes and related branches of the biosynthetic pathways of functional compounds across different species. New technological platforms are being increasingly used to investigate gene functions. Transcriptome profiling is also useful for investigating the coordinated expression of genes involved in the metabolic pathways that are involved in the synthesis of bioactive compounds in cereals. This review summarizes as to how cereal genomics and genetics are shaping the future of cereals to become a significant source of functional food.


Functional food Cereals Genes Genomics Metabolic pathways 



The authors are thankful to W. Jon Raupp (Wheat Genetic and Genomic Resources Center, Kansas State University, USA) for critical reading of the article. This chapter has been submitted as Contribution No. 12-103-B from the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station, Kansas State University, USA. Research was supported by a grant from Heartland Plant Innovations (HPI).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nidhi Rawat
    • 1
  • Barbara Laddomada
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bikram S. Gill
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Wheat Genetic and Genomic Resources Center and Department of Plant PathologyThrockmorton Plant Sciences Center, Kansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Istituto di Scienze delle Produzioni AlimentariConsiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISPA-CNR)LecceItaly
  3. 3.Faculty of Science, Genomics and Biotechnology Section, Department of Biological SciencesKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia

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